Maybe you're one of those people who looks forward to their weekly trip to the grocery store the same way teenaged you did a trip to the mall. Or maybe you completely dread it, swearing each time you plop your grocery bags down on the counter that you're going to start Amazon Fresh-ing everything. Either way, everyone can pretty much agree that the best part of the whole trip is eyeing some cool healthy food and drinks you've never seen before.
Whether it's a funky-flavored kombucha, a keto-approved protein bar, or a bottled matcha with super-pretty packaging, the discovery element is key to having a little fun while pushing your cart down the aisles. Recently though, buzzy wellness food and drink brands are focusing more on getting their goods into fitness studios than onto supermarket shelves.
You have to admit, it makes sense: Just think about how hungry you were after your last workout. But this trend goes beyond the smoothie-bar model that's become a mainstay.
Keep reading for insider intel on the food-fitness collabs, buzzy brands to look out for at your next workout, and where the trend is going next.
Why brands are flocking to boutique fitness
When Amy Driscoll launched Bear's Fruit Kombucha last year, she skipped the usual lengthy process of applying to be on grocery store shelves and went straight to a few key NYC studios, including Sky Ting Yoga and Pure Barre. (The brand is now in 13 wellness studios.)
"Kombucha drinkers tend to work out a lot," Driscoll says. "Rather than cross our fingers that they'd discover Bear's Fruit in stores, we brought it directly to [their workouts]. It's a tasty reminder that hard work always 'bears fruit.'" She makes a good point: When someone is trying to decide between 10 different kombuchas, there's more of a chance they'll grab a competitor's bottle.
"Rather than cross our fingers they'd discover Bear's Fruit in stores, we brought it directly to them." - Amy Driscoll, co-founder of Bear's Fruit Kombucha
Kombucha is a great anytime beverage, but some products are specifically geared toward workout recovery, making the boutique fitness space an even more perfect fit. Apres, a new protein drink, is popping up in studios, too. "Après was designed to be the perfect post-workout snack for boutique fitness, so partnering with select studios to offer our product was a no-brainer," Apres co-founder Darby Jackson says. "Studios now are so much more than an exercise space. From what we've seen, the most successful studios focus on community-building and providing a highly curated experience across all aspects of health and wellness, not just fitness."
Her co-founder Sonny McCracken adds, "As a new brand, we believe in the power of these communities and see the value in being introduced to our consumers there versus just our website or on the shelf at a supermarket."
It's a win for the studios, too. McCracken says Apres' partners—which include Shadowbox in New York and Yoga Flow, Core Fitness Society, and Karma Yoga in San Francisco—say it's another way for them to improve the user experience for customers.
Brands to keep your eyes peeled for
So, what exactly is making its debut next to the check-in counter? At Anna Kaiser's popular studio AKT, you'll find Rise nitro cold brew and Viking protein waffles. (Can you think of any other studio dolling out waffles as you head out the door? Talk about a post-workout win!) And you can get your Health-Ade fix at Love Yoga in LA.
Nuun CEO Kevin Rutherford sells his good-for-you sports drink powders at Mile High Run Club in New York and Sweatbox Yoga in Seattle. "Our mission is to inspire everyone to move more and fitness studios are motivating millions to sweat together every day,” Rutherford says. “[Studios] are a valuable source for inspiration and also [to find] healthy alternatives to naturally fuel their active lifestyles."
Yeah, that and also the line is bound to be way shorter than at Whole Foods or Sprouts.
Are ready-made meals next?
Some studios aren't stopping at buzzy packaged foods and drinks and are selling specialty crafted meals, grab-and-go style. At AKT, workout fiends can feast on VYNE Life meals, a line of plant-based, protein-packed dishes that are gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free.
Similarly, Kettlebell Kitchen—a food line catering to athletes that offers Paleo, vegetarian, and flexitarian options—has pickup locations at CrossFit gyms across the East Coast. And at Tone House in NYC, you can pick up protein-packed breakfast, lunches, and dinners all freshly made each day. This is definitely becoming A Thing.
The availability of packaged and freshly made grab-and-go products in the studio space goes beyond the "abs are made in the kitchen" philosophy—though that does play a part. Working out is just one piece of the wellness puzzle. Eating well is another one—a big corner piece. And while they certainly aren't the only ones, connecting the two can make fitting the other pieces just that much easier.
Speaking of making wellness habits easier, consider Well+Good's (Re)New Year your guidebook for healthy living year round. And these are the habits wellness pros use to get motivated in the AM.
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